Every, every, every time I hear about a great teacher who had an influence on someone, the story turns on one thing: That teacher saw something something unique about the student, and was willing to go out of his or her way to encourage it. (It's really interesting too how many of these stories involve the teacher "breaking the rules" to make something happen for the student, even in a small way.)
Here is yet another example, an article in the New York Times entitled, "What I Learned at School" by Marie Myung-Ok Lee.
There it is again! The author describes how she was different from the other students, and how her teacher made that a good thing. The teacher went outside the bounds of an assignment to encourage a student. Crazy! Crazy stuff!
Gave her permission, and then gave her encouragement.
Here's my version of the permission and encouragement story, called Let Out the Creative Beast. Maybe you had a teacher do this for you.